Can we take a few moments to hash out the ridiculously unrealistic expectations we have throughout the many stages of motherhood? I think we have all been victims of the pressures and perceptions of society’s idea of ‘normal’ especially when it comes to raising children.
The first hurdle starting before we even become ‘moms’. Unwelcome questions regarding your reproductive status like when you’re going to have children and how many. More so were my own preconceived notions and internal stressers about getting pregnant. How many of you planned everything out so perfectly in your mind but then became frustrated when your plan to get pregnant didn’t happen on your timeline? Here is the reality… 1 out of 8 couples struggle with infertility. ONE in EIGHT. Think about how many friends you have…. at least one of them have struggled to get pregnant or sustain a pregnancy. (I will share my story soon, so come back to hear more) There are so many misconceptions out there that you will get pregnant the first try (which is possible but that stats are not in your favor) so when we don’t get pregnant the first month then we begin to place blame on ourselves and wonder why our bodies are inadequate. (cue pre-mom guilt) Here is the thing….. it takes TWO to tango. Both women and men should be taking control of their fertility and health. The more we talk about the realities of conceiving, managing the factors we can control, and recognizing the difficulties many couples face in the processing of starting a family the less pressure we feel on ourselves and the less self hate we place on our our bodies from feeling inadequate for not following our timeline.
Hooray, two pink lines! Congrats you are on your way to way to motherhood. This should be one of the happiest times of your life. But here’s the thing, there is something wacky about pregnancy that makes people think it is acceptable to invade your personal space and make comments about your body. I cannot count the amount of times I was asked or rather in fact told that I was carrying twins. My husband even jokingly asked my OB at one of our ultrasound appointments “can you verify that there aren’t twins in there?” and she replied “just tell them it’s not twins it’s actually triplets”. While I love the spunky attitude of my OB (she was seriously amazing) I really shouldn’t have to guard myself with replies for people’s perceptions of my growing body. It shouldn’t be okay for pregnant ladies to take comments on how much they are showing or not showing, how much weight they are gaining, or even what they are eating. There is already enough internal pressure of learning to become a mom and making sure you are doing everything perfectly for that teeny tiny human that you are growing. It can be overwhelming at times trying to manage the many rules of things you can and can’t do and the foods you should and shouldn’t eat. Oh and also add the exhaustion and aversions that pregnancy adds to make things a bit more difficult. But healthy nutrition during pregnancy doesn’t have to be all or nothing (hi, I ate mac ‘n cheese almost daily during my pregnancy) and it certainly doesn’t have to be difficult. Join me here for more ways you can add healthy foods to your pregnancy without the hassle.
Congrats mama, your sweet babe has arrived! Finally, all the focus will be showered onto them. Wrong. People will be showering affection towards your new bundle of joy but people will also be looking at you to determine if you have returned to your pre-baby body. Not only that, it is a competition of how quickly you can get there too. Can we seriously quit it with the “pre-baby body” comparisons. There is no more “pre-baby body” once you enter “post-baby body”…. you know why? Because we are humans. Humans are always evolving and so are our bodies. Embrace it! Your body just did a series of incredible things. Focus on healing that body. Focus on nurturing your newest addition. Focus on your post-baby self and move on from society’s versions of pre-baby you.
If you choose to nurse. Well, you will have a whole new series of judgements from when, where, and how you should feed your baby. We will talk more about these topics in great detail later! Seriously, just drown them out. Your job is to nurture and nourish your baby so don’t worry about what others have to say or think about how and when you should do these things. So many women struggle with the preconception that breastfeeding = guaranteed weight loss which is not always true. There are so many factors that effect your body’s ability to change it’s weight. Factors that are controllable and some that aren’t. I am here to tell you don’t feel ashamed if your body hasn’t cooperated in the way you perceived it would before having a baby just because you are breastfeeding. My body in fact has done the opposite. I lost my pregnancy weight, plus some more. Initially, people would make comments about how great I looked or how I lost all my weight so fast but those comments quickly turned into remarks of jealousy from other recently postpartum mothers or an “intervention” by a gentleman that thought I was anorexic. So I was too big when I was pregnant but now I am too small postpartum? Can we see how we will never just be ‘perfect’ in the eyes of everyone else? This is exactly why we have to stop worrying about what others think and focus on how we feel about ourselves taking the time to nurture our bodies. At times, breastfeeding can be stressful. Yes, I am a proud nursing mama and want to help other mothers to start and continue their breastfeeding journey. But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. There are times when you feel the pressure of ensuring you are making enough, eating a ‘good enough’ diet, adding a laundry list of supplements and foods to boost your supply, or avoiding things that you may transfer into your milk. It can be daunting at times – luckily most of these things are simply perceptions but irregardless they can all be reasons for a woman never starting or sticking with breastfeeding. All because of unrealistic expectations and perceptions.
This is the stage I like to refer to as ‘Am I Really Responsible For Feeding these Humans Three Times a Day for the Next 17 Years’ stage. OK, so you have successful made, grown, and birthed a human, in fact you even made it through the baby stage but now what? Do you know how hard it is to be a mom, work full time (that even means you stay at home moms ), take the kids to all their activities, be a wife, be a friend, manage a household, and MAKE PINTEREST WORTHY meals? I mean seriously, who has time for that? THIS IS WHY MOM GUILT EXISTS. People aren’t being open and honest about how difficult it can be or how it may LOOK like they are doing everything but internally struggling. It is not good enough anymore to just make a healthy meal or sit down together at the table. Now these meals now have to be instagramable (is that a word?). Don’t get me wrong I use pinterest for lots of great ideas and I certainly enjoy looking at the creations posted on instagram but I by no means feel obligated to conform to those standards. Nutrition for your family shouldn’t be difficult, time consuming, expensive, a fight, or anything other than feeding your family. I will be sharing lots of great ideas, tips, and recipes with you here to help show you that mom-hood and feeding those humans for the next 17 years doesn’t have to be stress inducing.
So I leave you with this. We don’t have to accept the way society pressures us to conform to a certain size or standard. We don’t have to accept the pressures from the unrealistic expectations of being a mother. We can embrace being honest about our struggles, our insecurities, our need to know more to do better. We can embrace that we are rocking this thing called motherhood the best way we know how. We can embrace supporting other mothers wherever they are at in the process. And finally we can embrace nurturing and nourishing ourselves and our babes.